June 14, 2017
$88,000 Sanctions Award To A Party’s Former Attorney Reversed On Appeal.
In Webb v. Webb, Case No. B269311 (2d Dist., Div. 8 June 13, 2017) (published), the Second District, Division 8 held that Family Code section 271 sanctions only applies to parties in a family law litigation case, not allowing for awards to non-parties—reversing an $88,000 sanctions award to a party’s former counsel (a non-party).
January 28, 2017
After 16 years of marriage, wife applied for child/spousal support of at least $40,000 per month (yes, what you see is correct) in a dissolution proceeding against a husband who apparently ran a successful family business. She also asked for pendente lite fees and accountant expenses (totaling around $60,000) based upon disparity in income/assets. Husband argued that the recession had been cruel and he did not have the ability to pay any of the requests. Following some hiccups in proceedings and preliminary accounting skirmishes, the family law judge awarded pendente lite fees of $70,000 under Family Code sections 2030/2032 as well as preliminary accountant fees.
After finding that a pendente lite fee award is appealable even though subject to retroactive modification by the court (In re Marriage of Weiss, 47 Cal.App.4th 106, 119 (1996)), our local appellate court reversed. Reason? The lower court failed to make the statutorily mandated findings under Family Code section 270 on husband’s ability to pay.
December 21, 2016
Marriage of Dawes & West-Dawes, Case No. H037291 (6th Dist.) (unpublished) involved a dissolution proceeding for a 17 year marriage producing 3 kids. The wife had the much more meager income, with the court saying the husband produced 87% of the parties’ combined incomes. However, wife apparently received possibly up to $307,492 in misappropriated income from her mother’s assets. The trial court awarded wife $50,000 in Family Code section 2030/2032 needs-based fees based primarily on the income statements but not necessarily factoring in the “misappropriated income.”
The Sixth District reversed upon husband’s appeal, finding that the lower court needed to consider whether the money wife obtained from mother should be factored into the needs-based award.